Where we stand with the Trump-Russia investigation
For those who have been following this page for a while: my main target is not Trump, my target is Putin. Putin, not Trump, is the most dangerous person in the world. Trump is just a lackey, a small-time crook and bit-time liar whom Putin is using to attack the USA.
The problem is not that there is no evidence of Trump-Putin collusion, the problem is that there is too much of it.
I have added some background about the motive of Russia's interference in US politics. In my opinion, it was not only a general attempt at undermining US institutions (that came later) but originally it was a determined effort to make sure that Hillary Clinton did not become president. Putin feared her more than anyone else.
- December 2011: Tens of thousands of Russians march in the streets against Vladimir Putin's rule, and Putin blames it on interference by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Putin stated: "We need to safeguard ourselves from this interference in our internal affairs."
- 2012: Paul Manafort, later Trump's campaign chairman, lobbies Europe and the USA on behalf of Ukraine's president Victor Yanukovych, widely considered a Russian puppet, while Hillary Clinton supports the Ukrainian opposition
- December 2012: The USA enacts the Magnitsky Act, inspired by Hillary Clinton, to punish Putin and his cronies for the murder of the Putin critic Sergei Magnitsky. The lawyer hired by Russia to lobby against the Magnitsky Act is Natalia Veselnitskaya.
- January 2014: Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia, notes that Putin continues to consider Hillary Clinton a personal enemy
- February 2014: The Ukrainian revolution overthrows the pro-Russian regime of Victor Yanukovych and installs a pro-Western government, that Putin publicly describes as a coup orchestrated by Hillary Clinton
- March 2014: Russia invades and annexes Crimea, a region of Ukraine and the USA (Obama is president) imposes sanctions against the Russian elite
- April 2014: Russia, obeying orders from Vladimir Putin in person, begins setting up a "troll farm" to create fake social media posts and sends operatives to the USA to undermine the political process
- May 2015: Putin signs legislation banning most foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), that he views has set up by Hillary Clinton to undermine his rule
- June 2015: Donald Trump, whose business fortune has been mysteriously resurrected after almost going bankrupt, announces his campaign for president (See What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?)
- August 2015: Fox News, a radical right-wing TV network, launches a smearing campaign against Hillary Clinton based on her use of an email server, an investigation that (deliberately or not) serves to distract the FBI from the Russian meddling. From that day on, Fox News and Russia become de-facto allies in fighting the candidacy of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton
- August 2015: European intelligence agencies intercept communications between the Trump organization and Russia for the first time
- September 2015: The Washington Free Beacon, funded by billionaire Republican supporter Paul Singer, hires Fusion GPS to investigate multiple Republican candidates as well as Hillary Clinton
- December 2015: Michael Flynn, later a top Trump adviser, is paid $45,000 by Russia's national television for a speech in which he embraces the official Russian policy, and later dines with Russian president Vladimir Putin
- December 2015: Britain begins providing the CIA with intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives that were captured during routine surveillance of Russian operatives by various European intelligence agencies.
- March 2016: George Papadopoulos tells the Trump organization (and presumably tells Trump in person) that he can arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.
- Apr 2016: Joseph Mifsud of the London Academy of Diplomacy informs Trump's campaign aide George Papadopoulos that Russia has compromising material on Hillary Clinton and is willing to help Trump win the elections. Mifsud introduces Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev, who works for a think tank close to the Russian ministry of foreign affairs.
- April 2016: The Washington Free Beacon terminates its contract with Fusion GPS and Fusion GPS offers its Trump-related material to the Democratic Party, which becomes the new funder of the investigation
- June 2016: Fusion GPS hires Christopher Steele, a highly respected former British spy, to research Trump's links to Russia
- June 2016: Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump's son Donald Jr meet at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who offers information that can be used against Hillary Clinton in return for a lifting of US sanctions against Russia
- June 2016: Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm working for the Democratic Party, discovers that two Russian hacker groups (Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear) have stolen thousands of emails.
- July 2016: WikiLeaks releases thousands of emails stolen by the Russian hackers
- July 2016: Christopher Steele, disturbed by what he discovered, provides the FBI with a dossier linking the Trump organization to Russia
- July 2016: The FBI, aware of the close ties that several Trump aides have to Russia, opens a counterintelligence investigation code-named "Crossfire Hurricane" to determine whether Trump's organization is colluding with this enemy regime that is trying to sabotage the democratic process in the USA, and dispatches agents to London to meet the Australian ambassador Alexander Downer who has evidence of contacts between Trump's campaign advisor George Papadopoulos and Russia. Unlike the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, which is being widely publicized, the investigation into the Russia-Trump collusion is kept top-secret. This double standard de-facto helped Trump and hurt Clinton.
- August 2016: CIA director Brennan informs top lawmakers that Russia supports the Trump campaign, but this is kept secret and FBI director Comey refuses to meet with these top lawmakers
- August 2016: CIA director John Brennan provides intelligence to the FBI Russia is orchestrating an attack on the presidential election
- August 2016: Donald Trump's son Donald Jr meets at Trump Tower with three dubious characters: Joel Zamel, an Israeli hacker whose firm Psy-Group specializes in social-media campaigns, offering a multimillion-dollar plan to help elect Trump; George Nader, an intermediary representing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, offering a plan to destabilize Iran (both countries were upset with Obama's and Hillary Clinton's friendly policy towards Iran); and Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater, a firm involved in all sorts of scandals in the Iraqi "reconstruction" (and also a big Republican donor and the brother of Trump's future education secretary Betsy DeVos). Later, Nader will meet more than once with Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn and with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Nader also paid Zamel a huge sum, pretty much the amount that Zamel requested for his multimillion dollar contract. While this doesn't prove collusion with Russia, it does prove the willingness of the Trump organization to get help from foreign countries. This is a crime under US law. And, ethically if not legally, this amounts to accepting a bribe in return for a favor. It could be yet another coincidence, but Zamel previously worked for Putin's friend Oleg Deripaska, and Nader visited Russia at least twice during the presidential campaign, in particular to arrange a meeting between a Putin emissary and Erik Prince.
- September 2016: Christopher Steele, frustrated by FBI inaction, provides his dossier to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker and others, but most media refuse to publish it
- September 2016: The FBI finally provides the Steele dossier to the Crossfire Hurricane team
- October 2016: FBI agents finally fly to Europe to interview Steele
- October 2016: The FBI and the Justice Department obtain a warrant to monitor Trump's adviser Carter Page because they presented evidence that there was "probable cause" to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, Russia. In 2013 Page met repeatedly with Russian spy Victor Podobnyy in New York, and in July 2016 Page delivered a lecture in Moscow that sounded exactly like official Russian propaganda. A few days later Page was at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland where he and other Trump advisers, including Jeff Sessions (later Trump's attorney general), met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. (The Trump organization would later deny that Page had any role as an advisor to Trump, but there are recordings of Trump naming Page a close adviser).
- November 2016: By now all three intelligence agencies of the USA (FBI, CIA and NSA) have uncovered a sophisticated effort by Russia, engineered by Vladimir Putin in person, to influence the outcome of the election in favor of candidate Trump (or, better, to harm Hillary Clinton) via compromising leaks and fake news spread on social media by an army of Russian hackers
- November 2016: The FBI begins eavesdropping on Carter Page, a former Trump aide
- November 2016: Trump loses the elections by three million votes but becomes president on a technicality, largely due to the Russian efforts to discredit Clinton in key states
- December 2016: Alerted by the intelligence agencies, departing president Obama announces renewed sanctions against Russia for its interference in the presidential election
- December 2016: Trump's aide Michael Flynn (his future national security adviser) meets with the Russian ambassador to discuss lifting the sanctions
- December 2016: Steele completes his dossier, in which he reveals that, according to his Russian sources, Trump was filmed indulging in an orgy with prostitutes in Russia in 2013 while confirming that Russia has been working with the Trump organization to get him elected president (Click here for the full dossier). Trump denies everything, but later one after the other of Steele's findings have been proven true, and Trump's denials proven false. See for example this article. Only two items of the dossier have not been proven as of 2017: 1. that Trump's attorney Michael Cohen met the Russians in Prague (Cohen states that he has never been in Prague); and 2. that Trump was filmed in Moscow during an orgy with prostitutes.
- December 2016: Flynn, under FBI surveillance, makes phone calls to the Russian ambassador
- January 2017: All intelligence agencies of the USA (FBI, CIA and NSA) have reports proving that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections with the explicit purpose of hurting Hillary Clinton's candidacy and therefore help Trump get elected, and they brief Trump about it
- January 2017: Tom Malinowski, the departing assistant secretary of state for human rights, learns that Trump intends to remove all sanctions against Russia and alerts Congress, which leads Republican senator Lindsey Graham to introduce the Russia Sanctions Review Act (February 2017). Many, if not all, of the Russians who have been subjected to sanctions over the years for their anti-American activities will turn out to be involved in the Russia-Trump affair.
- January 2017: The Israeli magazine Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Israeli intelligence officials are concerned about sharing sensitive information with the Trump administration because they fear that the Trump administration will pass them on to Russia (which is an ally of Iran and Hezbollah, two arch-enemies of Israel).
- January 2017: Trump is inaugurated as president of the USA
- January 2017: Trump picks as national security adviser Michael Flynn, the man who was filmed attending Russian Television's gala of December 2015 at Moscow's Metropol Hotel with Putin (Russia Television is Russia's main propaganda machine). Also attending that dinner was the oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. See What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns? for Vekselberg's role in laundering Russian money.
- January 2017: The Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg starts paying huge sums of money to Trump's attorney Michael Cohen
- January 2017: Trump fires attorney general Sally Yates, who has warned him about Flynn's Russian activities
- February 2017: As media report that Flynn met the Russian ambassador, Flynn resignes as national security adviser, and later Flynn pleads guilty of lying to investigators
- February 2017: Trump demands "loyalty" from the FBI director James Comey
- February 2017: The FBI reveals that it has been investigating four Trump aides because of suspected Russian ties: Flynn, Manafort, Papadopoulos and Page.
- February 2017: Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn confesses that he lied about his contacts with Russian operatives, and Trump fires him when the news is leaked to the media.
- March 2017: The BBC investigates Joseph Mifsud, the middleman of the London Academy of Diplomacy who originally connected the Trump campaign and Putin's government.
- March 2017: Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions, formerly a top Trump adviser and suspected of several meetings with Russian operatives, recuses himself from the Trump-Russia investigation, and is later replaced as the official overseeing the inquiry by his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein
- March 2017: Trump fires Preet Bharara, the attorney prosecuting a money laundering case against Prevezon involving Russian officials (See What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns? for a detail of the Russian money laundering scheme).
- March 2017: An investigation by Reuters finds that at least 63 Russian citizens bought almost $100 million worth of real estate in Trump's luxury towers.
- April 2017: The Trump administration informs Russia before striking Syria, and Russia obviously informs Syria, so that the bombing results in no Syrian casualties and no Syrian planes destroyed. (See for example this article or this article).
- May 2017: The Trump administration secretely settles the case against Prevezon. The defense attorney for the Russians is Natalia Veselnitskaya.
- May 2017: ANIA magazine discovers that Elena Baronoff, an executive working for Trump in Florida, is not only a friend of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov but even a former Russian spy.
- May 2017: Trump fires FBI director James Comey who has refused to stop the investigation into the Russia-Trump scandal.
- May 2017: A photograph taken by a Russian photographer accidentally reveals that Trump, one day after firing Comey, met with the Russian ambassador and with the Russian foreign minister. The US media were not invited to this meeting, an odd meeting to start with (usually US presidents do not meet with a foreign minister unless the foreign minister is a good old friend).
- May 2017: A few days later the Washington Post discovers that Trump revealed highly classified Israeli information to the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador.
- May 2017: A few days later the New York times discovered that Trump reported to his Russian guests that he had fired the FBI director to stop the inquiry into the Trump-Russia scandal.
- May 2017: The Washington Post discovers that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner tried to set up a secret communication line with the Russian ambassador
- May 2017: Rosenstein appoints a former FBI director, Robert Mueller, as the special counsel overseeing the Russia-Trump investigation, including evidence that Trump in person may have obstructed the investigation
- May 2017: Former attorney general Sally Yates testifies that she had confidentially warned Trump of Flynn's illicit activities before. Trump did not take any action at the time against Flynn but instead a few days later fired Yates.
- June 2017: The FBI discovers evidence that Putin ordered Russian hackers to hack the voting machines (but this failed) in order to alter the votes in Trump's favor (testimony under oath by the director of the FBI)
- June 2017: Former FBI chief Jeff Comey testifies under oath that Trump pressured him to stop the investigation. Comey also calls Trump a liar. Comey confirms that the Department of Justice is investigating Trump associates for potential collusion with Russia to influence the US elections.
- June 2017: Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions had testified under oath that he never had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russia during Trump's campaign. Unfortunately for Sessions, Richard Burt, a former US ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration who is now a lobbyist working for Russia in Washington, confirms that he wrote a Russia-friendly foreign policy speech for Trump AND that he (a Russia lobbyist) was invited to two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the Trump campaign.
- June 2017: Trump, who a few weeks earlier had cordially met with the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister, snubs the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko when the latter visits Washington. Trump offers absolutely zero words of support for Ukraine in its civil war against Russian-supported separatists.
- June 2017: the US senate votes overwhelmingly (98 to 2) to impose sanctions on Russia as punishment for meddling into US elections. Trump himself finally admits the meddling in a tweet in which he accuses Obama of not immediately punishing Russia for it.
- July 2017: The New York Times publishes the story that the Trump campaign (his son, his son-in-law and his campaign manager) met with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who worked for the Russian government just about at the same time that Russian hackers launched their attacks against Clinton. The Washington Post summarizes the story like this: "Trump aides were in the market to collect negative information that could be used against Clinton - at the same time that Russians were collecting such data." Donald Trump's son Donald writes that his meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya was about Russia's adoption policy (It will be later revealed that his father forced him to write that lie).
- July 2017: Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had originally denied ANY meeting with Russians, has now admitted more than 100
- July 2017: As the Economist magazine points out, Trump gives a speech in Poland that is largely a copy of a speech given by Putin in September 2013 in Novgorod, as if the writer was the same
- July 2017: Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group reveals that during the G20 meeting Trump and Putin had a secret one-hour meeting in the presence only of Putin's interpreter (in other words, with no US witnesses of what was discussed)
- July 2017: A Washington Post's article presents evidence that Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions, who had repeatedly sworn that he never had any contacts with Russians during Trump's campaign, may have done just that, and not with a remote liaison to the Russians, but with the Russian ambassador himself.
- July 2017: A senate judiciary committee hearing is held for Bill Browder (see the full transcript), a businessman who uncovered a $230 million corruption scandal tied to Putin himself. The Russian lawyer who investigated it, Sergei Magnitsky, was tortured and killed in jail in 2009. Bowder explains the motive behind Putin's meddling in US elections: Putin was angry at the sanctions slapped on Russia after the Magnitsky assassination for the simple reason that Putin keeps most of his many billions of dollars in the West (the "Panama Papers" showed that Putin's close friend Sergei Roldugin stashed away $2 billion from Russian oligarchs and the Russian state, presumably on behalf of Putin) and those sanctions risk freezing and confiscating that money. Secondly, Putin promised impunity to all of his corrupt cronies, but the US sanctions de facto punish them. These cronies (who have committed crimes well beyond embezzlement, from kidnap to extortion, if not outright torture and murder) number in the thousands. They all hid their money in Western banks. Bowder testified that Natalia Veselnitskaya (the lawyer who colluded with the Trump team) was in charge of lobbying in Washington to repeal the sanctions via a fake NGO (that officially works to promote Russian adoptions).
- July 2017. The US Congress overwhelmingly votes to slap new sanctions on Russia but Trump never implements them. (Eventually they will expire without ever being implemented: not a single sanction on Russia has been implemented by the Trump administration despite overwhelming bipartisan agreement in the Congress).
- July 2017: The New York Times recovers financial records from Cyprus showing that Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort owed money to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, close to Putin's circle. See What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns? for details on Deripaska's role in laundering Russian money.
- August 2017: The New York Times publishes emails between Felix Sater (born Felix Sheferovsky in Russia) and Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. Sater, behaving as an intermediary between Trump and Putin, delivered the message that, if Trump built a Trump Tower in Moscow, "Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.. I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected" (email of 3 November 2015). For the record, Cohen has denied that he ever met with Russian officials in Prague in late 2016, as claimed in the Steele dossier, but admitted that he met with Sater in January 2017 in New York to discuss lifting US sanctions against Russia. Hence Sater must have had a direct link to Putin. In 1998 this same Sater had pleaded guilty to collaborating with Russia's organized crime, and a July 2017 report by the Financial Times revealed that Sater is now under investigation by the FBI for an international money laundering scheme. In 2006 this Russian-born Sater was managing director of New York-based real-estate firm Bayrock Group when it entered into a deal with Trump to build the Trump SoHo Hotel, a joint venture with Georgian tycoon Tamir Sapir (who became a billionaire working with the Soviet Union in the 1980s) and funded by Kazakh businessman Alexander Mashkevitch, who called himself a "personal friend" of Kazakhstan's dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev. (Not my fault if Soviet people pop up everywhere in Trump's biography). In 2010 two former Bayrock employees, former director of finance Jody Kriss and Michael Chudi Ejekam, filed a lawsuit alleging that the firm was (quote) "substantially and covertly mob-owned and operated". Sater's shady career has been the subject of a series of articles written by distinguished journalists: Charles Bagli's "Real Estate Exective with Hand in Trump Projects Rose from Tangled Past", Stephanie Kirchgaessner's and Julian Borger's "Felix Sater: the enigmatic businessman at the heart of the Trump-Russia inquiry ", Tim O’Brien's "Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia Machine", Andrew Rice's “The Original Russia Connection”, and Bob Dreyfuss' "Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?". In 2013 Trump abruptly cut off a BBC interview when the BBC interviewer asked him about Sater.
- August 2017: Rod Wheeler, a former homicide detective, files a lawsuit alleging that the Trump team worked with Fox News and Republican donor Ed Butowsky to fabricate a conspiracy theory (about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich) in order to distract from the Trump-Russia investigation (that conspiracy theory was in fact repeatedly aired by Trump cheerleader and radical right-wing Fox host Sean Hannity).
- September 2017: The Washington Post reveals that Paul Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska "private briefings" on the US presidential campaign
- October 2017: Papadopoulos pleads guilty to lying to the FBI and begins cooperating with the investigation
- October 2017: Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager with close ties to Russia, is indicted of money laundering and tax fraud, mostly related to business with Russia and its allies. One of his aides (Rick Gates) pleads guilty and begins cooperating with the investigation.
- October 2017: Trump announces that he will not certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement even though Iran is complying. The focus on Iran is odd given that that Russia is not complying with a more important nuclear treaty: Russia has deployed nuclear-tipped cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. Trump's crusade against Iran, a country that has complied with its nuclear deal, distracts the public from the fact that Russia is not complying with a more important nuclear deal (Iran cannot strike the USA, Russia can).
- October 2017: Republican senator Bob Corker, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, warns that "Trump is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation ... I think the debasement of our nation is what he'll be remembered most for". Note the "purposely". It implies that Trump is doing it on purpose not because he is incompetent or ignorant. On purpose.
- October 2017: Russia's president Vladimir Putin launches one of his most stinging critiques of the USA during the Valdai forum at Sochi, an annual conference of Western academics. Meanwhile, a state-run television network is broadcasting two special reports featuring interviews with Veselnitskaya and Russia's prosecutor general Yury Chaika
- October 2017: A few days after Putin's speech at Sochi, Trump's main propaganda channel, Fox News, launches a storm of accusations against Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama based on an old conspiracy theory of the radical right-wing media Breitbart (the same ones who argued for years that Obama was not born in the USA), a conspiracy theory widely used by the Trump campaign in 2016, based on a book by radical right-wing pundit Peter Schweizer, "Clinton Cash". According to this conspiracy theory, Hillary Clinton gave 20% of the USA's uranium to Russia in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. Whether true or false (the last thing that would surprise us in California is a case of corruption in Washington, but selling uranium to Russia is neither illegal nor a threat to the USA, so much so that in 2015 Russia supplied 13% of all uranium purchased by nuclear power plants in the USA), this doesn't change what we know about the Trump-Russia collusion scandal. It actually reinforces the notion that Russia has been plotting to undermine the USA. It also reinforces the notion that the Trump camp is scared of the investigation and that it is looking for tactics to delay it and undermine it. This is also eerily reminiscent of the standard tactic used by Putin to discredit his accusers: whenever someone accuses Putin of wrongdoing, Putin doubles down on the accuser with fabricated accusations that end the accuser in jail. The most notorious case in the USA is the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was sentenced to jail, and eventually died in jail, after exposing a massive fraud scheme involving Russian officials.
- October 2017: Coincidence or not, the "uranium scandal" comes out on Fox News just when the New York Times is about to publish new revelations about the meeting between Trump's son and a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya: far from being an independent, Veselnitskaya was trained and coached by no less than Russia's prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, one of the most powerful men in Russia. The documents that Veselnitskaya handed to Trump's son were a rephrasing of documents that Chaika's team had already given two months earlier to US congresswoman Dana Rohrabacher. Stephen Blank, a senior fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council, argues that Veselnitskaya's actions "were coordinated from the very top." Apparently, Chaika's scheme (and therefore Veselnitskaya's) was not aimed specifically at discrediting Hillary Clinton but at hurting William Browder, a fierce Putin foe (see July 2017 above), the man behind the 2012 sanctions against Russian officials (precisely the "Magnitsky Act" named after Sergei Magnitsky).
- October 2017: Trump's mouthpiece Fox News also starts demonizing Mueller, the one in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation, just when Mueller announces the first indictments in the Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
- October 2017: Trump and his mouthpiece Fox News also resurrect Chris Steele's dossier after revelations that it was partially funded by the Democratic Party (it was initially funded by a Republican think tank). The dossier contains material that no major media took into consideration. The fact that Trump and Fox News try so hard to discredit it makes people like me think that maybe there is more truth in that report than we imagined.
- October 2017: Just when Trump's mouthpiece Fox News is trying to distract the public with new (actually old) accusations against Hillary Clinton, Mueller charges three members of the Trump campaign: its former manager Paul Manafort, his chief assistant Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Manafort's crimes had nothing to do with the Trump campaign but, at the least, show bad judgement on the part of Trump in picking his team (at worst, they show that Trump surroundes himself with crooks and mostly Russian-paid crooks). Papadopoulos is a direct link between Russia and the Trump campaign because he was asked by Russia to set up high-level meetings with Trump in person and delivered those messages (without anyone in the campaign reporting that a foreign power, and the main rival to the USA, was looking for the collaboration of a presidential candidate).
- November 2017: The investigation into the Trump-Russia collusion obtains a confession from Carter Page that he did indeed meet with Russian officials in July 2016, a fact mentioned in the Steele dossier but always denied until now by Page. Page confesses during a testimony he gives to the House Intelligence Committee. One by one all the statements in the Steele dossier are being confirmed. While we have found no evidence of the video mentioned in Steele's dossier, the chances that the video exists increase as the credibility of the dossier increases.
- November 2017: As the Wall Street Journal and other media report, one of the Russian men who helped Steele compile his Trump-Russia report was assassinated and three others were arrested (charged with treason). It sounds like Russia takes Steele's report much more seriously than the US media.
- November 2017: Dmitri Alperovitch, a legendary computer security expert who has helped the USA to identify Chinese and Russian hacking attacks (in 2017 he was included in Fortune's "40 Under 40" annual ranking of the most influential young people in the world) gives a talk at the International Conference on Cyber Conflict about how Russia scientifically planned to destabilize US politics before the presidential elections.
- November 2017: In one of the many amazing coincidences of this case, just one week after Jared Kushner visited Saudi Arabia and two days after Trump called for Saudi Arabia to have the state oil company go public in the USA (an IPO that is expected to be the biggest in history), Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers, and in particular billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the man who saved Trump from bankruptcy in the 1990s and therefore knows quite a bit about Trump's turbulent past. Talal also attacked Trump in 2015 with a tweet that read "You are a disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America" to which Trump responded with a tweet promising retribution. How does this related to Russia? In November 2016 Alwaleed, furious at Russia's support for Assad in Syria, threatened: "I will finance Israel and Arab Countries to Invade Russia".
- November 2017: The "Paradise Papers" leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and provided to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveals thousands of secret deals that went through the Bermuda law firm Appleby, including deals by Wilbur Ross, Gary Cohn (Trump's chief economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs executive), and Rex Tillerson (Trump's secretary of state and former Exxon Mobil executive). In particular, Wilbur Ross' firm Navigator in the Cayman Islands conducted business with Sibur, owned by Putin's close friend (and, famously, judo partner) Gennady Timchenko and by Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov. Furthermore, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner invested in Silicon Valley social media (both Twitter and Facebook) using money from VTB, Russia's state-controlled bank, and Gazprom Investholding, Russia's government-controlled institution.
- November 2017: Trump's spokeswoman dismisses Manafort's alleged crimes as being merely about money-laundering and helping Russia in Ukraine, as if it was perfectly normal that a presidential candidate hired such a man (out of 300 million US citizens) to run his campaign
- November 2017: After meeting Putin one more time, Trump stated "He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again - You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. Every time he sees me he says, I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. He says, I didn’t do that." This is about Putin, a man widely believed everywhere in the world (including his own Russia) to be a congenital liar. On the same day Trump also escoriated the US intelligence agencies (CIA, NSA, FBI) that have proven Putin to be a liar: former national intelligence chief James Clapper, ex-CIA director John Brennan and former FBI chief James Comey. The unanimous reaction among politicians, the intelligence community and even foreign commentators was that Trump's statements are undermining the USA and posing a peril to the country (as Clapper said).
- November 2017: Two days after Trump pathetically defended Putin's innocence (quote: "He said he didn't meddle - I asked him again - You can only ask so many times... I just asked him again... He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election... He did not do what they are saying he did... Every time he sees me he says, I didn't do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it... He says, I didn't do that"), British prime minister Theresa May accused Vladimir Putin of election meddling.
- November 2017: Luke Harding publishes a new book, "Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win", that pretty much says what i have written in this page and in my lengthy investigation What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?.
- November 2017: An investigative report confirms that Trump's Panama tower was used for Russian money-laundering by one of the tenants.
- December 2017: Flynn pleads guilty to lying to investigators and begins cooperating with the investigation. Flynn is willing to testify about the Trump-Russia scandal only if given immunity from prosecution.
- December 2017: Trump tweets: "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!" If Trump knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, then the president had knowingly obstructed justice when he asked the FBI director James Comey to let “Flynn go” and then fired him for not doing what asked to do.
- December 2017: Coincidence or not, in November 2017 Russia, Turkey and Iran agree on a conference to decide the borders of postwar Syria, and in December 2017 Egypt grants Russia the right to use its airbases; two events that Trump tacitly approves and that mark the replacement of the USA with Russia as the main power broker in the Middle East. Trump also recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, so that the USA can no longer play a role in the peace process, another gift to Russia. This move has brings condemnation on the USA from all traditional allies in the region, including British prime minister Theresa May, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron... but not from Russia's president Putin: the USA is now as isolated as Hitler's Germany was in 1939. Thomas Friedman writes: "In nearly 30 years of covering United States foreign policy, I've never seen a president give up so much to so many for so little, starting with China and Israel." And that's on top of killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal, that would have created a 12-nation economic bloc controlling 40% of the world economy led by the USA. No US president has ever given Russia so many gifts. Russia comes out of Trump's first year in office as a world power with much more leverage than the USA, which is now a marginalized regional power. The dollar fell 9% in 2017. A German minister said that Germany is now more worried about the USA than North Korea...
- January 2018: Trump's circle has repeatedly attacked the research firm Fusion GPS that prepared the famous "Steele dossier", the dossier that details the collusion between Trump and Putin, a dossier in which so far nobody has found anything false and, in fact, many of its assertions are now proven to be true. Christopher Steele, a well-respected former British secret agent, has never discussed it with the media. Fusion GPS finally responds to Trump's attacks in a New York Times article. We learn that the FBI already knew of collusions before Fusion GPS provided them with the Steele dossier. I feel vindicated: Fusion suggests that investigators should look into "the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump's businesses". See my lengthy investigation: What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns? where i said the same things one year ago. Quote: "We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.". And then concludes with the obvious question that Trump never answered: "Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?"
- January 2018: Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief strategist, is subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury
- January 2018: Donald Trump and his mouthpiece Fox News launch a campaign of denigration, smearing and intimidation against the FBI and the department of justice, and law enforcement in general, forcing some of the most honorable civil servants in the USA to resign and threatening to fire others, something eerily reminiscent of Putin's purges in Russia.
- January 2018: The Atlantic details Paul Manafort's sinister career before he became the chairman of Trump's election campaign
- January 2018: Forbes magazine (not exactly a left-wing publication) writes: "The Trump Organization borrowed billions of dollars to finance its real estate operations but subsequently defaulted on many of its loans. Nevertheless, the Trumps were inexplicably able to continue borrowing millions more from the very banks still owed money. Around the same time, Russian entities linked to the Kremlin quietly moved $10 billion dollars from global locations into the United States using the same banks. Bank anti-money laundering teams somehow failed to identify the movement of funds and did not flag or report the transactions to the US government. Government inspectors independently uncovered the suspicious Russian transactions, known as "mirror trades" (stock purchases in overseas branches and identical immediate sales in United States). Democratic legislators have demanded banking information for identifying links; Republicans controlling Congressional committees refuse to cooperate. Has the Russian government purchased Trump's loans from the banks he was indebted to?"
- February 2018: After countless denials, Trump's attorney Michael Cohen finally admits that he did pay a huge sum to porn star Stormy Daniels who was threatening to go public about an alleged relationship with Trump. This is relevant because the Steele dossier's most controversial item is the existence of a video involving Trump and Russian prostitutes, a fact always denied by the Trump camp. It looks more likely now that we know for sure that Trump had an affair with at least one porn star.
- February 2018: Trump's chief adviser Bannon, who had refused to testify to Congress in January, is forced to testify in February, but refuses to answer most of the questions (See for example this article)
- February 2018: Federal prosecutors accuse 13 Russians of stealing the identities of US citizens and launching a campaign of fake news, in favor of Trump, accusing three of them of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five of aggravated identity theft
- February 2018: Trump shows no alarm in learning that Russia conspired against the USA but blames the FBI's investigation of Russia for a mass shooting in Florida that could have been prevented; at no point in time this man, who is technically in charge of protecting the USA from foreign attacks, shows any concern about Russia's attacks on the USA, and in fact he keeps trying to stop anyone who tries to protect the USA from Russian attacks
- February 2018: The White House's chief of staff John Kelly downgrades the top secret security clearance for the Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner (in other words, Kelly decided that Kushner cannot be trusted with national secrets)
- February 2018: A Washington Post article reveals that at least four countries (United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico) tried to take advantage of the financial troubles of Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner to blackmail him (Kushner's business has a $1.2 billion debt that comes due in January 2019), and that Kushner never reported his contacts with these countries (Kushner repeatedly had to amend the form that he is required to file with details on his contacts with foreign persons: every time the media discover one such contact that he "forgot" to list, he has to amend the form).
- March 2018: Trump proposes tariffs on steel imports that will mostly punish NATO, Asian and Southamerican allies (the European Union, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil and Japan), clearly undermining all US alliances that Russia dislikes
- March 2018: Vladimir Putin announces on Russian television that Russia has developed a new nuclear missile aimed at the USA. He clearly states that the target is the USA. He even shows a video simulating an attack on Florida. There follows not a single word of condemnation from Trump, a man known to tweet on just about everything.
- March 2018: The New York Times reports on a Belorussian model who is being detained in Thailand on charges of prostitution and who has offered details about the business dealings of Trump in Russia. According to a videotape secretely produced by Anastasia Vashukevich (aka Nastya Rybka) and smuggled out of prison, she has evidence of dealings between Trump and Russia via Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska (to whom Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, owed huge sums, see July 2017). This former model had previously provided valuable information to an investigation against Putin published by Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, an investigation widely considered reliable by Western intelligence agencies (Navalny has repeatedly been jailed in Russia for his anti-Putin campaign). As part of that investigation Navalny used a video provided by this prostitute in which we can hear this tycoon Deripaska and a Russian politician close to Putin discussing US-Russian relations.
- March 2018: The Atlantic reports the strange odyssey of Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump, in particular the secret correspondence between Stone and Wikileaks (Stone had previously denied any such contacts). Stone also communicated in August and September of 2016 with a Twitter user known as Guccifer 2.0 who was later revealed to be a Russian spy.
- March 2018: Trump fires secretary of state Rex Tillerson who backs Britain's position on the poisoning of a Russian dissident in Britain: Britain accused Putin, and Tillerson sided with Britain. One day later Trump fired Tillerson. After being fired, Tillerson ominously warned the nation against Russia's "troubling behavior".
- March 2018: The New York Times discovers that Muller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to obtain documents related to Trump's business dealings with Russia
- March 2018: Obeying orders from his boss, Trump's attorney general Jeff Sessions fires former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who has been investigating the Russia-Trump scandal. McCabe responds by warning that his dismissal was part of a larger effort to discredit the intelligence agencies investigating Trump. Former CIA chief John Brennan tweets: "When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America...America will triumph over you. "
- March 2018: For two years Cambridge Analytica, the main source of "fake news" during the 2016 presidential campaign, has denied using Facebook data and has denied any contact with Russia. Trump's campaign manager Steve Bannon has been a former vice presidents of Cambridge Analytica. In March 2018 The British television channel Channel 4 send reporters disguised as prospective clients to talk with Cambridge Analytica and secretly filmed the interviews during which Cambridge Analytica admits using the unethical methods that it had always denied. The Observer published an interview with Cambridge Analytica's employee Christopher Wylie in which the described the company's work as a "grossly unethical experiment". Fcebook suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica for "misuse" of customer data and confirmed that the data used by Cambridge Analytica came from Russian-born Cambridge University scientist Aleksandr Kogan. Finally, The New York Times discovered business ties between Cambridge Analytica and Russia, and The Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller requested Cambridge Analytica's internal documents. Basically, Cambridge Analytica had always lied about these two issues.
- March 2018: The media learn from Russia that Trump congratulated Putin for his re-election, but did not condemn him for rigged elections and for the poisoning of a Russian defector in Britain
- March 2018: Ralph Peters, a Fox News strategic analyst, and a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army, resignes with a letter that accused "Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration" and that accused Fox News's prime-time anchors of "dismissing facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller."
- March 2018: In a television interview, former CIA chief John Brennan, an expert on Putin's Russia, speculates that Putin "may have something on Trump". Reminder: the Steele dossier that Trump and his mouthpiece Fox News continually escoriated had been proven mostly right on target except for a sex video mentioned in that report that never surfaced.
- March 2018: Trump picks radical right-wing politician and Fox News contributor John Bolton as national security adviser. An article in the Guardian reveals that Bolton collaborated with Cambridge Analytica in 2014. John Bolton's organization paid Cambridge Analytica $1,152,299. Only four other campaign organizations paid Cambridge Analytica more than Bolton's before 2017: Make America Number 1, which is backed by the billionaire founder of Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer ($1,476,484); Cruz For President ($5,805,552); and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. ($5,912,500).
- April 2018: The FBI raids the offices of Trump's attorney Michael Cohen and discovers that one of his other clients is Sean Hannity, Trump's main supporter on Fox News
- April 2018: James Comey, the former FBI chief fired by Trump for refusing to end the Russian investigation, publishes his book of memoirs in which he calls Trump "unethical, untethered to truth". Based on Trump's own fear of it, Comey now believes that the video mentioned in Steele's dossier might indeed exist.
- April 2018: The New York Times reports about Trump's dubious business ties to Russia, which may have saved him when he was bankrupt and no legitimate bank was willing to loan him money. All of this was already in my old article What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?.
- April 2012: After his name is disclosed during the investigation on Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, radical right-wing TV host Sean Hannity makes the mistake of publicly stating that he never paid Cohen. If Hannity did not pay Cohen, why was Cohen so desperate to hide Hannity's name? Could it be that it was Cohen who paid Hannity? Could it be that Trump has been paying Hannity all this time to keep up the pro-Trump propaganda on Fox News?
- April 2018: The New York Times reveals that Veselnitskaya recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties. During an interview on NBC News, she acknowledges that she worked for Yuri Chaika, Russia's prosecutor general. It was already known that her talking points for the Trump Tower meeting were exactly the same point of a confidential memorandum circulated by Chaika to his assistants. Obviously the Trump Tower meeting was not about adoption of children, as originally claimed, but about how Russia could help the Trump campaign.
- April 2018: A Rolling Stone magazine article titled "Michael Cohen's Criminal Ties" quotes Kenneth McCallion, a former prosecutor who investigated Russian criminal money: "Trump's genius - or evil genius - was, instead of Russian criminal money being passive, incidental income, it became a central part of his business plan. It's not called 'Little Moscow' for nothing. The street signs are in Russian. But his towers there were built specifically for the Russian middle-class criminal."
- May 2018: Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen is investigated for the "hush money" that he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, but a New York Times article also reveals a shady usiness empire run by what many called "Trump's consigliere" (a reference to the Italian mob). Quote: "many of his associates have faced criminal charges". Cohen, who has always surrounded himself with Russians and was Trump's business scout in the former Soviet Union, including a major deal in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, has been extremely lucky in real estate: he paid $10 million for some buildings in New York and then someone bought them for three times more just three years later, in 2014. His uncle Morton Levine was associated with the Lucchese mob and with the Russian mob in the 1990s. Both Cohen and his brother Bryan married Ukrainian women and worked with their fathers, Fima Shusterman and Alex Oronov. In 1993 Cohen's father-in-law Fima Shusterman admitted laundering millions of dollars. Cohen also worked with Felix Sater who pleaded guilty of working with the Russian mafia (Sater later became an informant for the FBI). A Rolling Stone report titled "Michael Cohen's Criminal Ties" raises suspicions that Cohen may also have been involved in the "no-fault insurance fraud", mostly organized by the Russian mafia. Now recall that in November 2017 Glenn Simpson, a private investigator hired to investigate Trump's Russia connections , testified to Congress that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen "had a lot of connections to the former Soviet Union, and that he seemed to have associations with organized crime figures in New York and Florida - Russian organized crime figures." Simpson also testified that "serious questions about Donald Trump's activities in Russia and the former Soviet Union went to Michael Cohen, and that he was the only person who had information on that subject or was in a position to answer those questions."
- May 2018: The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, publicly declares that "there is no reason to dispute that Russia favored Trump" in the presidential elections of 2016.
- May 2018: Rex Tillerson (Trump's former secretary of state) delivers a speech in which he says: "If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom".
- May 2018: Trump announces that he wants to dismantle the nuclear agreement with Iran, a fact that sends oil prices surging and therefore rescues the Russian economy (oil is the main export of Russia).
- May 2018: A New York Times article reveals the August 2016 meeting between Donald Trump's son Donald Jr and an emissary of Saudi Arabia and UAE with the purpose of planning an anti-Iranian campaign, precisely what has just happened with Trump dismantling the nuclear agreement.
Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Cold War spy who defected to the West and is still living undercover, wrote a book about the Russian disinformation campaigns that went largely unnoticed at the time it came out, "Disinformation - Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism" (2013), but that sheds a lot of light on what happened in 2016.
Trump's reaction after every revelation of his dealings with Russia is to deny them categorically and to call them "fake news", followed a few days later (when confronted with overwhelming evidence) by an admission that they were true with an explanation of why they were perfectly appropriate. Then he goes after the people who leaked the "fake news" to the media. His interest is clearly to hide his Russian connections: deny that they exist, and persecute those who expose
them (who are often FBI, CIA and NSA agents, who get fired, a fact which leaves the USA ever more vulnerable to foreign interference and terrorist attacks).
Trump cheated on his wives countless times and divorced twice.
Trump filed for multiple bankruptcies at his Atlantic City casinos which cost his workers millions of dollars in retirement savings.
As far as i am concerned, there is little doubt in my mind that Trump is betraying his country the same way that he betrayed his wives and his workers.
Note: former Trump mistresses and even a former Trump doorman have taken lie-detector tests to prove that they are not lying, but Trump has never accepted a lie-detector test on himself.
Dear "Vladimir" Trump,
there is an easy way to prove us wrong: release your tax returns.
See also my lengthy investigation: What's in "Vladimir" Trump's tax returns?
TM, ®, Copyright © 2017 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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